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50mm f/1.8 or 35mm f/1.8 on D5100

edited November 2013 Posted in » Nikon D5100 Forum
Can you please help me decide what kind of lens I should buy for everyday use? I shoot landscape photography (20%), portrait/group (60%) and other events (20%). Any help would be much appreciated.


  • edited November 2013
    From what I've read from other photogs, the 35mm is an awesome lens to have, but if you are going to be photographing a lot of portraits of people, the 50mm is more flattering. If you can spend a little more, go for a 1.4 f-stop for nicer background blur for the portrait shots. Hope that helps.
  • edited November 2013
    Due to your requirements (landscape, group, other, everyday use), I would definitely recommend the 35mm f/1.8.

    It will give you the equivalent field of view of a 52.5mm lens which is considered a "normal" and has been an industry standard for a long time.

    The 50mm would only be better for portraits and not for any of those other scenarios (generally speaking). Even then, it is not a true portrait focal length lens. Something like an 85mm f/1.8 or whatever tele-zoom you get someday would be better for portraits anyway.

    I'd get the 35mm first. In fact, that's what I did. Someday you'll want both anyway!
  • edited November 2013
    Thanks for all your input, I'm just waiting for my new 35mm.
  • edited June 2015
    I chose the 50mm f/1.8 over the 35mm. I like it for portraits as the sensor puts it right around 70mm. For a "normal" lens the 35mm will become a 50mm on our cameras.

    The 50mm has one drawback and that is for indoor photography in small settings where you find you will have to scoot back to fit your focal points in the frame.

    I have both now, and I still like the 50mm over the 35mm, if I had to just have one.
  • edited June 2015
    I think the decision depends partly on what situations you expect to need a fast lens for. For most purposes, the kit lens will give a good account of itself at either length, so you're mostly left with low light and shallow depth of field as reasons to go to a fast prime (not to say the prime will not also give other benefits in contrast and flare, but the kit lens is decently sharp and makes good pictures). If you find that your main need for that wide aperture is in portraits, then the 50mm makes sense. If you find you really want a fast normal lens, then the 35mm is best. Of course ideally you should get both.

    If you want to take what is basically the same picture in terms of framing, you will be further back with the 50mm, and lose some of its advantage in out of focus blur, but not all. The change in distance does not have quite as much effect on depth of field as the change in focal length, and the 50mm will retain a small advantage.
  • edited June 2015
    For those wondering, according to the EXIF info, the first shot in that link was done with a D5100 and the kit 18-55mm lens at 40mm, more or less wide open, with flash and surprisingly high ISO of 2200, in auto mode. Other shots were done with a variety of other cameras including the same one at different focal lengths, and at least one with auto exposure but manual focus. The camera lens combination clearly works well for the kind of documentary shooting shown here, where creative control of depth of field is not called for.
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